"You get three wishes," the genie said. "I wish for a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to liv...more"You get three wishes," the genie said. "I wish for a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to live in happiliy ever after." "Your wishes are granted. Mostly," said the genie.
My wishes were not granted, mostly. I was prepared to read a short, but pleasantly shocking, quirky urban young adult fantasy novel of the ageless sort. Something that has earned being referenced in every other modern fairytale review. But I was disappointed by something so decadent and otherwordly silly of novella-sized proportions - which is maybe hip and maybe multi-layered and satirical and whatnot - that I failed to get it.
Please don't misunderstand. I am not complaining about the "plot" or what the story deals with in general. I do appreciate that it celebrates love in countless forms and outlets between friends, gay lovers, couples who have already split up but cannot let go, parent and child, human and pet, love in different modes of bliss and hurt, family as patchwork as it gets, forgiveness and beauty. I draw my hat because drugs, AIDS, the downsides of stardom and other problems occuring in Hollywood and elsewhere are not glossed over, but brazenly interwoven into everyday life.
I felt let down, because "Weetzie Bat" could only be compared to a fairytale in the sense that both dump unbelievable or exciting facts onto the reader using a detached point of view and a really compact, condensed style: The evil frog turned green with envy, followed the princess into her plush chamber and impregnated her on the spot. He left the castle seven nights before his daughter Swampsea was born. "Good riddance," said her mother, now a royal single parent, and employed a gnarly-horned wet-nurse from hell. Oops! Wrong tale! The man's name was Valentine Jah-Love and the woman's name was Ping Chong. [...] "Jah!" cried Valentine, lifting his stormy face up in the greenish electric light. "You'll have to stay here. It will rain for seven days and seven nights." It rained and rained. Everything in "Weetzie Bat" happens immediately and reminded me of the times in my childhood when I tried to made up a story, started by choosing the characters' names with painful elaboration - the wackier, the better -, moved on to outline what was supposed to happen to whom, jotted down some experimental dialogue and then ... left it to its own devices, because playing some other promising game of make-believe had gained my attention.
In addition to the rush and the lack of filling everything is so easy and too superficial. I.e. My Secret Agent Lover Man (that's a character's name) and Weetzie successfully "make" a couple of movies with the help of one or two friends and their house-mates, who function as actors, wardrobe people and whoever is needed, and earn enough money to live, indulge in their favorite sushi and buy a new car although there is no talk about financing or selling the projects or even of anybody watching the outcomes.
Plus my expectation of a magically version of an 80s L.A. had to be satisfied by a voodoo practicing seductress popping in as a supporting character and by a genie suffering from occupational burn-out who transplants Weetzie and Dirk from being teenaged, desillusioned lesson-cutters to living as house-owners on the look-out for the perfect, respective "Duck" (guy).
Please forgive me, enthusiastic Weetzie fans, for missing the spectacular wonder Weetzie's adventures are supposed to present and for being impatient enough to skip all four sequels without dishing out a second chance to Cherokee, Witch Baby and yet unknown Angel Juan to eventually wow me.(less)
He nodded. 'And how old are you?' 'Eighteen.' But he said nothing. 'I know,' she continued. 'It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an e...moreHe nodded. 'And how old are you?' 'Eighteen.' But he said nothing. 'I know,' she continued. 'It is impressive that I accomplished so much at such an early age.' 'Crime isn’t an accomplishment, Sardothien.' 'Yes, but becoming the world's most famous assassin is.' He didn’t respond. 'You might ask me how I did it.' 'Did what?' he said tightly. 'Became so talented and famous so quickly.'
To readers who were sorely disappointed by the teenage assassin girl in Grave Mercy, because she turned out to be squeamish, uneducated, childish, prudish and – stripped of her wonder box of magical knives and poisons – not really fit for killing anybody at the right place and at the right time, the Throne of Glass’s equally young heroine might certainly represent a reconciliation: For Celaena Sardothien proves herself to be more than capable of ruthlessly and efficiently ending the lives of those unfortunate enough to be on her hit list when she is working or those on her radar when she is snapping. Yes, capable is the adjective the reader cannot escape to associate with "Adarlan’s most notorious assassin", whose career had been cut short a year ago by some spineless betrayer, but there are many other labels that fit her.
Thus I would rather exchange "capable" for "accomplished", since the latter - used by Celaena herself, too - encompasses almost the full range of her praiseworthy achievements, traits and gifts and it implies her delectability in the admiring eyes of the strong, intelligent and good-looking alpha males around her: Celaena's best features are her blond hair and her gold-ringed irises, but after a few hearty breakfasts and some hefty workouts in her new castle suite her cheeks hollowed by prison food and her lean body mangled by hard slave labor in the conqueror king’s mines resume their seductive, yet athletic, voluptuousness and shine. Male chaperone Captain Chaol and Crown Prince Dorian certainly notice in spite of the multi-layered clothing that attempts to conceil her forms. The mine-induced paleness of skin – which stays and stays and stays – simply seems to add to Celaena’s attractiveness. Just like the three huge scars the girl earned during her year as a captive are on the one hand conveniently located on her back in places hidden by the country’s court fashion and on the other hand almost aesthetic reminders of the heroine’s unquenchable toughness. For right after her arrival in the mines her fellow inmates had started flocking towards her and had insisted on cleaning her wounds and smearing them with their own precious salves each night. Which makes it safe for me to assume that no ugly bumps and infections disturb the white-lined artwork on Celaena’s pearly shoulders.
The prisoners’ selfless act of help is just an example of how good and just people recognize Celaena’s inert goodness and righteousness. The reader sees the difference between cruel and mindless soldiers slaying random people in the name of the king and the pure-hearted murderess-on-commission, being a member of the highly esteemed and selective assassins' guild and killing with care and precision, anyhow. It is never mentioned how Celaena managed to stick to having fulfill clean-conscience-assignments only, but listening to her enraged thoughts you simply know deep down that killing children and innocent villagers would be against her work ethics. And, as mentioned, several characters having no access to her stream of consciousness also see her inner light: She might do friends only seldomly on principle because of her line of work, which requires mistrust and competitiveness, yet she is immediately sought out by the few sensible competitors of the king’s secret future champion competition, and her simple, welcoming greeting immediately convinces the visiting ambassador princess of one of the recently subjugated countries, that the girl disguised as Prince Dorian’s merchant class lover Lady Ludmilla is the only castle inhabitant fit to become her language and culture teacher, even her trusted confidante and companion.
Princess Nehemia’s sudden sway to her favour might unquestionably also have been caused by Calaena’s unusual and outstanding language skills – nobody but her in the castle is able to speak Eyllwe, because the King of Adarlan does not believe in diplomatics, but in swords and in the display of power.
As already mentioned, Celaena's special abilities are numerous and her knowledge is vast. I attribute these facts to her almost magical grasp on time management: In a very short time she has her fighting, spying, running, targeting, poison sniffing and observing skills honed to their former unsurpassable glory by doing sit-ups in her room, sparring outside and running a few laps now and then. Simultaneously she naps, stuffs herself with as much food as she can and spends her entire spare time reading herself through the royal library while idly lounging on her balcony. Still there is enough time left for competition meetings, clothes fittings, afternoon hours with the princess and nightly expeditions through the castle’s ancient hidden passages, which certainly, yet to the reader’s complete surprise, start right behind a meaningful tapestry in Celaena’s heavily guarded apartment and carry a whiff of magic and destiny with them, which I do not want to elaborate upon.
Luckily, Celaena does not need to set aside time slots to practice playing the pianoforte. A short foray into some of her former favourite pieces shows that she has lost nothing of her prodigy-like techniques and means of musical expression.
Unlike the above mentioned heroine of Grave Mercy Celaena could hold her own in the company of anybody at any table – highest to lowest - , for her manners including table manners are impeccable – but only if she chooses to make use of them, she says. When she nourishes herself in her suite with Chaol watching her, she prefers showing off her skills in chewing und slurping full-mouthed, open-snouted pig-style, which mysteriously seems to make her more exotic and delectable in the eyes of her male trainer.
The process of heartily inserting food reminds me of Celaena’s favoured method of extracting it again. Boy, can that maid vomit. She "heaves and heaves", when she is exhausted or afraid, when she had breakfast, when she has her moontime. And she does it with gusto and bile in finely tuned archs right where she is – she has a waiting woman who cleans up after her after all – one who had the impertinence to call her out on her arrogance and her habit of admiring herself in the mirror for longer bits of time.
But who would be entitled to being a tiny bit arrogant and show-offy if not she? Even after a year of handling nothing else than a pick-axe Celaena knows that she is the best archer, the best climber, the best knife thrower, the best sword wielder, the best runner, the nimblest fist fighter, the second best poison sniffer, the most intelligent planner, the cutest grinner, the one travelled widest and, and, and without checking out the runners up. Her name is universally known and feared, her education had been costly – though forced on her. So, what if lying low first for the sake of gaining the weapon of surprise is something she simply is not really capable of? Every perfect heroine – even the very most capable one - needs a flaw. Right? And the habit of admiring the cute enemies’ butts to block out waves of mortal fear in a death trial does not truly count.
So, why, in the Wyrdmarks’ name, am I too bored to continue reading after having covered 65% of my Kindle copy? Who is to blame for that dust-layered feeling of draggerishness if not our rise-and-shine hyper-good, hyper-pure, hyper-seductive, probably hyper-magical and hyper-accomplished-in-general murderess-for-hire? I am open to suggestions, but I won’t listen to those trying to shove prequels and sequels and other literary masterpieces under my nose, which I supposedly have to study first before being apt enough to appreciate Throne of Glass. (less)